The end of the year is here for most of us. Some of us have finished what feels like the weirdest and longest school year ever and some of us still have a few weeks left. We all agree this was not the year we anticipated or wanted. We were thrown curveballs and no matter what, we did our best for our students while distance learning. I’ve read so many posts about feeling frustrated and overwhelmed for various reasons, but I want to remind you that this was not a normal year and ask you to give yourself grace. You handled it as best as you could. This was survival teaching at its best, and we are coming out of it even better teachers than before.
It’s Ok to Feel Frustrated
First thing – when plans change quickly and outcomes are not what you expected, it’s normal to feel frustrated and discouraged. One day you were in a classroom and the next were figuring out how to get the microphone and camera to connect to Zoom. You spent countless hours adapting lessons for digital platforms and setting up Zoom meetings only to have less than ideal response. Focus on the positives – the students who showed up, what you learned about yourself through this time, and the new technological worlds now available to you. Also understand that you are not alone in this feeling – parents and students are also overwhelmed and frustrated.
I felt like I became Laura Ingalls suddenly in a single multi-grade schoolhouse. I always thought pioneer life had this amazing, romanticism to it. But after the last 10 weeks of teaching my two kids while getting my normal work done, I’m seriously rethinking pioneer life. Most days we complete all the classes including the specials choice boards and interactive classrooms. Other days recess was extended and I’m lucky if my kids read or wrote something…anything.
As a parent I am beyond overwhelmed, but at least I have a background in teaching! Most parents relied on you to do the teaching. They haven’t had training on the various Learning Management Systems and probably have no idea how to submit things to Google Classroom. If they are working from home, that adds a another dimension – possibly limited computer access. What I’m trying to say is, please don’t take it personally if only 3% of your students are showing up. Distance learning wasn’t an easy adaptation for anyone and it isn’t a personal slight. There are a million reasons why your students aren’t showing up that are out of their control. Your kids love you and more than likely want to be in your class. They didn’t choose this any more than you did.
Comparison – Thief of Joy
Have you seen all the cool things teachers have done to reach their students during ALL of THIS!?! Of course, you have, because social media is covered with all the really awesome digital interactive classrooms, YouTube lessons, and activities people made for distance learning. Listen – there will always be people who do some over-the-top amazing things. And going the extra mile when you can is totally fine, but you shouldn’t feel horrible if you don’t always do it nor should you feel like you have to do all the things. Social media typically only shows the best of what they’ve done – not the ok lessons that didn’t go well.
Pick what you do best and shine there rather than do all the things…well, meh. Are you comfortable in front of a camera? If so, you could create some really cool video lessons. Would you prefer to let your bitmoji be your digital face? Let your digital creativity shine with Google Classroom or other platform! Whatever you do, be proud of what you’ve put out there for your students and don’t let comparison rob you of that joy.
Moving Forward with Distance Learning
Now that we’ve almost finished this school year, we should do a few things. First take time to grieve the things you never got to do with your students. This was a stressful year. When you are ready, refocus on next year. Posts making predictions for the fall are all over social media, but the truth is we don’t really know for sure what our new guidelines will be. Periodically check in with legitimate sources for updates. Once you have read through the guidelines, consider doing the following:
- brainstorm tweaks your current lessons to accommodate whatever this fall throws at you
- create or find digital materials
- familiar yourself with learning management systems your school uses
But most importantly, breathe, try to relax, and do your best to stay healthy. This has truly been a challenging school year and you deserve some recovery time.
What is something you learned to do through distance learning? Did you learn something about yourself in the process? I know I sure am! I’d love to hear about your trials and successes!